I hear from plenty of gun owners that guns are just like tattoos, once you get the first one, you’re going to get more!
Firearms are great for self-defense, sports, and collecting. Keeping your collection safe becomes a bigger and bigger challenge with the more firearms you purchase.
A gun safe room can help you keep your collection safe and secure. Here’s how to build a gun safe room.
What Is A Custom Gun Safe Room?
A gun safe room, also called a gun vault, is a highly secured room that you use to store a sizable collection of firearms. These rooms provide added safety for more than just theft.
They protect your firearm collection against fires, natural disasters, and prevent unauthorized access to your guns.
These rooms can also pull double duty. They are one of the best options for storing important documents, valuables, and currency. If they’re safe enough to store guns, they’re safe enough for other precious items as well!
Most gun safe rooms are modifications of existing spaces. Walk in closets, basements, and interior rooms all make good candidates for a gun safe room. These rooms are purpose-built for safety and security.
They differ from traditional gun safes in a few important ways. Gun safes are ideal for smaller firearms collections whereas gun safe rooms can handle much larger collections.
Gun safes might be hard to crack, but some smaller safes can be stolen altogether while your gun safe room is going nowhere.
Gun safe rooms also let you display your collection and keep everything inventoried and maintained while gun safes have the “out of sight, out of mind” problem.
Panic Rooms vs Gun Safe Rooms: The Difference
People tend to get gun safe rooms and panic rooms confused. They might seem similar from the outside looking in, but these rooms are actually two entirely separate spaces.
I get a lot of people asking me why they can’t just use a gun safe room as a panic room and it all comes down to the types of threats these rooms prepare for.
Here’s why panic rooms and gun safe rooms are two different things.
Panic Rooms And Gun Safe Rooms Prepare For Different Threats
So much of our personal safety comes down to proper threat modeling. In order to prepare for our safety and self-defense, we need to have a clear-eyed understanding of the types of threats we are going to face.
Panic rooms and gun safe rooms prepare for two different types of threats which makes them two different types of rooms.
A panic room is a place where you and your loved ones can safely hide out during the event of a burglary or other home invasion.
A panic room it’s designed to be impenetrable in the short-term by a would-be burglar. It’ll keep you safe until the burglar leaves or law enforcement arrives.
A gun safe room is designed to keep your collection of firearms safe from damage or theft. You’ll likely only ever use a panic room for a few minutes to a few hours while you wait for law enforcement to arrive, but your gun safe room needs to be able to protect your firearms for days, or even weeks, while you’re away on vacation.
Gun safe rooms need to stand up to different types of attacks as well as different types of threats.
Here’s the big takeaway about this distinction. Your panic room is designed to protect your life and the life of your friends and family.
Your gun safe room is designed to keep your valuables and firearms intact and protected against thieves. These are two different types of threats that each need their own response.
Access To Panic Rooms vs Gun Safe Rooms
Access is another big feature of gun safe rooms. The most important thing about owning firearms is controlling who has access to them.
This includes everything from preventing theft all the way over to making sure that your children, or their friends, don’t accidentally get their hands on potentially dangerous weapons.
This means that your gun safe room is going to have very strict protocols when it comes to access.
Strong locks, a secure door, and security surveillance are vital for making sure that this room is impenetrable unless you want someone inside. This also makes it completely different from a panic room on a fundamental level.
I often recommended that individuals make their panic room an area of their home that they regularly use and can access freely.
Your rec room, a spare office, or a home library are all ideal candidates for becoming a panic room. These rooms look unassuming, but can be locked down in an instant.
You want everyone in your home to be able to quickly get into your panic room without any trouble. This includes kids.
Here’s one way to look at it. Your panic room is designed to keep things out while a gun safe room is designed to keep things in.
Gun Safe Rooms and Fire Safety
I see so many misconceptions about gun safe rooms, panic rooms, and fire safety that this needs its whole section.
When individuals first start researching having a panic room in their home, they often think that they can make a room that’s fireproof.
However, fire is one of the things that a panic room cannot protect you from. It’s never a good idea to hide in a panic room in the event of a fire.
If your home is on fire, you need to get out as soon as you can. Having GO bags at the ready can make this process easier and quicker, but a panic room is not a way to prepare for fire. However, this is not true about a gun safe room.
You, your family, and even your dog can all leave the home in the event of a fire. Your firearm collection, on the other hand, it’s going to be stuck inside.
If you want to protect your firearms against a fire, a flood, or another type of disaster, a gun safe room is the way to go.
You can design your gun safe rooms to be extremely fire-resistant. This won’t make them safe places for your family to go in the event of a fire, but they will protect your valuables from destruction and fire damage.
Now that we’ve covered what a gun safe room is, let’s talk about how you can plan and build one.
Planning & Building A Gun Room
Building a gun safe room isn’t as easy as just installing a regular gun safe. However, it can give you a place to keep a large collection of firearms safe while also keeping them on display.
You want to be able to show off your impressive collection of firearms and there’s no better way to get the best of both worlds than a gun room.
I’m going to walk you through everything you need to consider when building your own gun safe room. I’ll cover everything from what you should consider before building, your plans, and how to complete the final build.
What To Consider Before Building a Gun Room
Before you start your remodeling project, you’re going to want to consider a few things that cover the basics of a gun safe room.
The first of these is your needs as well as the needs of your family. You need a room that’s capable of protecting your firearms, but it shouldn’t get in the way of day-to-day life. In fact, I recommend having your gun safe room be in an out-of-the-way location.
This minimizes wear and tear to your security measures and makes sure that thieves are less likely to encounter the room. It’s also a bit of a hassle if you try to double up on rooms and what they’re used for.
I’ve seen some people build a gun safe room into their laundry room, and this just means you’ll be bypassing your security several times a week while you do the wash.
It also increases the odds that your firearms will get damaged, in this case from laundry room humidity, or that someone, like a child, will gain access to the room when they shouldn’t.
Learning how to build a gun safe room starts with recognizing that a gun safe room should become its own space.
It’s fine if you have your gun maintenance and other related activities also housed in this room, but it shouldn’t be a place to also store utilities, seasonal decorations, or other things that would have your family members unnecessarily going in and out of this room. Storing other valuables is fine, but this isn’t the place for a guest bedroom.
Planning Your Gun Room
Now I’m going to walk you through planning your gun safe room.
If you’ve been around the self-defense, personal safety, and security scene for a while, then you’ve already picked up that planning is half the battle.
With an accurate and well-thought-out plan in hand, you’ll wind up with a gun room that more than meets your needs.
There are four big things you need to consider when we start putting together your gun safe room plan.
Your budget is the first thing you want to consider. This will help guide you when you’re putting together your gun safe room.
This will also help give you some clarity about whether or not you need to take out a home improvement loan, save up some additional money, or scale back your aspirations.
You don’t want to cut corners when putting together a gun safe room. These are essential safety costs that you were building to protect your investment into your firearms.
Having an accurate budget is an essential part of the planning process.
Next you want to consider the size of your gun safe room. This is both the amount of space in your home that you’re willing to dedicate to this purpose and the size of your firearm collection. This is another area where I see people make some common mistakes.
You might think that the biggest mistake here is that people make their gun safe room too big. However, the problem is actually the opposite.
Firearm owners often design gun safe rooms that accommodate their collection as it is today. The thing is, your firearm collection has grown over the years and it’s likely going to continue growing in the coming years.
This means you should design a gun safe room that can accommodate a little growing space. Figuring out how much space starts with a little personal research.
Look at your last few years of firearm purchases and try and consider how often you buy firearms. The types of firearms you buy also come into play here.
There’s a huge difference between creating space for someone who’s collected 50 rifles compared to someone who has collected 50 handguns.
Once you figure out how many firearms you expect to buy over the next few years, add that much extra space into your gun room plan.
If you’re looking for a safe estimate without doing all that extra research, you should consider adding 25% to 30% of the size of your current firearm collection. This will make sure you don’t overcrowd your space and need to do renovations in the near future.
Placement is a big concern when building a gun safe room. There are essentially two types of gun safe rooms when we look at things on a macro-level. There are above ground gun safe rooms and below ground gun safe rooms.
Above-ground gun safe rooms are easier to build when it comes to controlling humidity and temperature. However, there are additional concerns about safety and security when we’re looking at above ground builds.
Below ground gun safe rooms are often built in basements. These already come pre-fortified thanks to the concrete walls of your basement.
However, humidity and flooding are major concerns and they can do far more damage to your firearms than a thief could ever hope to.
Legality and Insurance
I’ve seen so many gun safe room guides skip over the important conversation around legality and insurance when it comes to building a gun safe room. This definitely isn’t the most fun part about owning a firearm collection, but it is also one of the most necessary.
You need to check with your local, state, and federal laws to make sure that your gun safe room is up to code. It has to meet these standards both as a room in your home and as a location of firearm storage.
The last thing you want is to get most of the way through your build only to find out that you have to do some fundamental redesigns because your storage room doesn’t meet your local fire code. Having a contractor can help you navigate this complicated issue.
You also want to check things over with your homeowner’s insurance. Insurance plans often have specific wording when it comes to covering firearms and their storage.
Make sure that your gun safe room lines up with your insurance policy and doesn’t accidentally create any issues for you down the road.
Your Collection and Display Needs
The last thing you need to plan for is how you want to display your collection. A gun safe room isn’t just about utility. It’s about putting your firearm collection on display so that you can enjoy, and maintain, what you have.
Wall-mounted displays are one of the most common choices for a gun safe room. This is a great way to get your firearms out on display while keeping them safe.
You can even choose to highlight certain firearms using carefully crafted lighting choices or come up with interior design themes to add visual interest.
This is the part of designing a gun safe room that’s less about security and more about your aesthetic and personal needs.
Whether you want this to look like a vintage museum or the Batcave, you should make this a space that you’re happy to have in your home.
Building Your Gun Room
Now it’s time we rolled up our sleeves and learned how to build a gun safe room.
You considered your firearms collection, the physical space available in your home, and you put together your blueprints. Now it’s time to go step-by-step through the process of building a gun safe room.
Building Your Gun Safe Room Door
The door of your gun safe room is one of the most important choices you are going to make. There are two big things that you need to keep in mind while picking the store. The first of these is definitely going to surprise you.
A lot of people want to choose a door that looks industrial or militaristic. When you close your eyes and think of a gun safe room, you might be thinking of a large steel door with a massive handle or military looking door with a security panel and armor plating.
However, for your standard homeowner this is nothing more than a sign letting thieves know where your valuables are kept.
The style of your door should match the style of the rest of your home. If your interior design plan has been country and rustic, then your gun safe door should match. This helps it blend into the rest of your home and doesn’t signal that the contents inside of that room are extremely valuable.
The next thing to consider is that this door needs to be tough as nails. It’s got to stand up to everything from a clever thief with a lock pick to a team of experienced burglars with gas-powered saws.
Gun Safe Room Walls
The walls of your gun safe room also need to be safe, but there’s one thing that they definitely don’t need to protect against.
The walls of your gun safe room should be able to stand up to comment attacks. Your standard drywall can be broken down by a thief wielding a sledgehammer and you want to make sure that your gun safe room is a little bit tougher than that.
Reinforcing your walls with cinder blocks is one quick way to add some durability and make it much more difficult to just simply break through than a sheet of drywall.
The thing that I mentioned earlier that these walls don’t need to protect against: bullets. I see many people talking about gun safe rooms and making them bullet proof with bullet-resistant drywall and glass, but gunfire just isn’t a realistic concern for these rooms.
Bullet proof walls are a major concern for panic rooms, but gun safe rooms are designed for different threats. If a thief shoots through the walls of a gun safe room, the worst they can do is damage one of your firearms. This is a particular risk that many homeowners are willing to accept.
Armoring Your Windows
Ideally, your gun safe room will be in an interior room with no windows. However, life isn’t always ideal and sometimes we need to do a little extra work.
If your gun safe room has windows, you should invest in bulletproof glass or security windows. This has less to do with it being bulletproof and more to do with this glass also being resistant to crowbars, axes, and other ways of being broken into.
If it takes half an hour for a thief to smash through a window with an ax, that’s way more effort than even the most dedicated burglar is willing to put in.
Fire, HVAC, and Utilities
Your gun safe room now needs its fireproofing, ventilation, and any other utilities you might need. Adequate fireproofing is essential because your gun safe room is defending against more than just theft.
You might also want to consider collapse resistant walls if you’re in an area that’s prone to earthquakes.
Are you looking for more self-defense, safety, and security tips? Check out our other articles to stay on top of everything from natural disasters to basic self-defense.